At the end of a busy day it can be easy to find yourself overwhelmed by the volume of tasks you may still have left to do. Your first instinct might be to shut your computer off as soon as you wrap up and get as far away from the office as possible. However, this isn’t productive. If you don’t plan for the next day before leaving work, you can feel scattered the following morning, and you might not remember the progress you’ve already made.
A healthy way to end your work day is to jot down a list of what you’ll do the next day. This could be things you left unfinished or tasks you didn’t even get a chance to start. Although it’s tempting to try to block such tasks from your mind, the next day you’ll be happy you didn’t.
Writing down a list of tasks should take no more than five minutes and will pay dividends for the rest of your evening and following morning. Even if you need to take a short break or take a few breaths beforehand, make sure to map out what you’ll be doing.
This is why you’ll thank yourself for planning your next day before leaving your computer.
It keeps track of what you already accomplished
There are few things quite as satisfying at work as crossing several important items off of your to-do list. Starting your morning with a concrete look at what needs doing and systematically crossing things off the list can help boost morale. It’s also a way to congratulate yourself throughout the day for the work you’ve done.
Once you cross off a task from your to-do list, you can put it out of sight and out of mind. That might even motivate you to stop multitasking. (Humans are, after all, notoriously bad at it.) Instead of trying to do several things at once, use your daily plan to keep you to one task at a time, and finish each completely before moving on to the next one.
A list helps you organize the day
Some people like to start off the day by accomplishing small tasks and then building their way up to more complicated work later on. Others prefer to get the hardest tasks out of the way early so they can move on with their day stress-free.
No matter your style, mapping out your day beforehand can help you structure your schedule so you can make the most out of it. Having a list to start with at the very beginning makes it so you don’t have to waste time getting your bearings if you’re picking up where you left off. A roadmap will not only help with prioritizing the upcoming hours but will also help you maintain an organized life overall.
It lets you completely unplug
Unplugging and relaxing is much easier when you know your plans are set for the next day. When I create a plan I find it lets me leave the office (or remote work) feeling more confident and organized. Once you write down what you need to accomplish tomorrow, you can mentally put it on hold and relax. You can be more present when you’re at home and fully enjoy precious time away from work.
The best practice may even be to leave the roadmap for the next day at your workspace, whether that is your home desk or office building. This will help keep work separate from the rest of your life and create better work-life boundaries.
A plan makes sure you won’t forget anything
It’s a comfort knowing you won’t forget any major tasks the following day.
Some folks lay awake at night running through a laundry list of problems they have to tackle in the morning. I know plenty of professionals who’ve experience this snowballing into a full blown panic attack. People get concerned they’ll forget to do any one of dozens of tasks. They worry. Before you know it’s 3 a.m. and you’re still wide awake.
Rest is key to entrepreneurial success, and it’s important that a mental to-do list does not take away from your ability to take a break.
Creating a list should mitigate some of these worries because it provides a sense of security that your memory won’t fail you. Write down those things you need to do and let that list live in the real world instead of in your brain. Soon enough, your mind can rest and then reset so you can be the best version of yourself the next day.
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